Australian Council on Children and the Media

Dr Who - Deep Breath

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Short takes

Not recommended under 10; parental guidance recommended 10-13 (violence and disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Dr Who - Deep Breath
  • a review of Dr Who - Deep Breath completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 28 August 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children 10-13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children aged 13 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Dr Who - Deep Breath
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild science fiction themes and violence
Length 80 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The movie version of the first episode in the new Dr Who series opens with a Tyrannosaurus Rex appearing out of nowhere and rampaging through Victorian London. The Doctor’s companions from past sessions, Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart) and Strax (Dan Starkey), arrive on the scene to investigate. Suddenly the dinosaur coughs up a blue police box, out of which clambers a newly-regenerated and extremely disorientated Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his current companion “The Impossible Girl” Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman).  Also observing the dinosaur is a mysterious alien android (Peter Ferdinado). The android has half his face missing and a multitude of visible cogs whirring around inside his head, and we learn that he is on the prowl for human body parts to replace his own failing internal organs.    

As the plot develops and the Doctor becomes more orientated with his new self, the rampaging dinosaur self-combusts, exploding in green flames. The Doctor discovers that it’s not just the dinosaur that has spontaneously burst into flames, but that a large number of Londoners have also been reported to have self-combusted. This leaves the Doctor with a puzzle to solve and brings him into battle with the androids.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Time travel; aliens; androids; the stealing of human organs

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains quite a lot of violence, including death. Examples include:

  • In one scene we see an android holding a pair of tweezers and a glass jar. He tells a man standing next to him that the man’s eyes are good and that his (the droids) are bad. He then knocks the man to the ground and bends down towards the fallen man. Screaming is heard, but we do not see what happens.
  • A humanoid alien makes reference to melting the Doctor with acid.
  • In a comical/slapstick scene, a humanoid alien throws a rolled newspaper to a woman leaning out of a window hitting her in the head and knocking her down.
  • An alien makes reference to the Doctor having his throat cut by the violent poor.
  • The Doctor and Cara are surrounded by threatening androids and strapped to chairs which descend down a shaft to a chamber below.
  • Clara is threatened by a droid who tells her that he will destroy her if she does not tell him where the Doctor is. The droid then pulls off his human hand and attaches a type of flame thrower which he uses to menace Clara. 
  • One scene depicts a stylised fight between two sword-wielding humans and a large group of droids which have sword-like blades in place of hands. The humans knock many androids to the ground but they get up as if uninjured. The fight ends with the humans surrounded with the droids pointing their sword arms at the throats of the humans.
  • An android hits the Doctor across the face, knocking him to the ground.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The rampaging Tyrannosaurus Rex in the opening scenes is scary.
  • The film contain several scary alien characters including: a woman with a reptilian face; a short alien man with bald head and three fingered hands, the android with half his human face missing with clockwork-like cogs whirring around inside his head and two human eyeballs moving about.    
  • In one scene the doctor rips a human face from the head of an android and places it on Clara, who rips it off and throws it on the floor. In another, the Doctor, who is wearing the skin of a human head over his own, rips the human skin off and throws it onto the ground. 
  • One scene depicts a hot-air balloon made from patched together human skin rising into the air. 
  • One scene depicts an android  impaled on the spike at the top of Big Ben

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be scared by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may also be scared by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual innuendo and references in this movie, including:

  • The Doctor refers to his companion Cara as his “lady friend” then says, “It’s just an expression - don’t get any ideas”.
  • A woman makes reference to an alien woman as being her wife. She says that in public, for appearance's sake, the woman pretends to be her maid.
  • A woman tells another woman the Doctor looks like her dashing young gentleman friend and her lover.   
  • The Doctor refers to female dinosaur as a “big sexy woman”.
  • While using a device to looking inside Clara’s subconscious a male alien states that he sees a lot of muscular men doing sport. He then says, “It could be sport, is that sport? It could be sport”
  • While the Doctor and Clara are tied to chairs Clara uses her feet to pick up the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver and throw it at him, the screwdriver hitting the Doctor in the groin. Clara asks, “Sorry did I hit something?” with the Doctor replying “Oh the symbolism!”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some partial nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • A woman tells a second woman that she can share the oxygen in her lungs with her and then appears to kiss her on the lips for an extended period.
  • Women wear form-fitting suits and revealing clothing.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • One scene depicts glasses of wine standing on restaurant tables and androids pretending to drink the wine.
  • The Doctor pours two glasses of scotch, one for himself and one for an android; neither drink the alcohol.  

Coarse language

Some mild language and name calling. Examples include:

  • shut up; human scum; pudding brain; give him hell.

In a nutshell

Dr Who - Deep Breath is a science fiction drama targeted at adolescents and adult fans of the Dr Who series. As the first in the new series, the main aim of the film appears to be the introduction of Peter Capaldi as the twelfth Doctor. He proves to be a very funny character with a strong Scottish accent, who delivers some very clever and funny lines.  The film seems darker than previous Dr Who episodes and is too scary for children under ten and some older children, so parental is recommended for under 12s.    

The main message from this movie is that it’s not outward appearance that makes people what they are, but what’s inside.

  • Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:
  • Selflessness: The Doctor has been putting his life on the line for centuries to protect humanity from alien attackers.
  • Care and companionship: It is the care and companionship of those who travel with the Doctor that makes the Doctor recognise and appreciate the value of humanity and the need to protect it.

Parents may also wish to discuss the portrayal of same-sex relationships in the Victorian period and how things are the same or different today.

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